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THE ORATION OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST LUCIUS CALPURNIUS PISO. - Marcus Tullius Cicero, Orations vol. 3: Containing the Orations for his House, Plancius, Sextius, Coelius, Milo, Ligarius, etc. 
The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, trans. C.D. Yonge (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1913-21). Vol. 3.
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THE ORATION OF M. T. CICERO AGAINST LUCIUS CALPURNIUS PISO.
After the decision which the senate came to in consequence of Cicero’s speech on the subject of the consular provinces, Piso returned home from Macedonia, being the first senator of consular rank who had ever had that province, and had returned from it without a triumph. On the contrary, he had lost most of his troops in engagements with the barbarians on the frontiers. When he arrived in Rome, he stripped his forces of their laurels, and entered the city as obscurely and quietly as he could. But on his first appearance in the senate, relying on the influence of Cæsar, who was his son-in-law, he attacked Cicero violently, complaining that he had treated him ill in his absence, especially in promoting the measure which deprived him of his province. And among other topics he reproached him with having been banished; on which the whole senate interrupted him with violent indignation. He reproached him also with his bad verses, and with his vanity in praising himself in them.
Cicero was exasperated by this attack to break out with the following invective against him by way of reply, of which a good deal of the beginning is lost, and one or two other portions are in a very corrupt or doubtful state.
I.O ye immortal gods, what a day is this which has dawned NA* * * *
NA* * * * What specimen, even the slightest, have you ever given of ability? Of ability, do I say? Rather should I say, what proof have you ever given of being an honourable or a free man? You, who by your complexion seem to throw a doubt on your country, by your speech on your family, by your morals on your name NA* * * *
NA* * * * This has nothing to do with leading us to think slightly of Placentia, of which place he boasts that he is a native: for my nature does not incline me to his; nor does the dignity of a municipal town, especially of one which has deserved exceedingly well at my hands, allow me to entertain such feelings NA* * * *
NA* * * * There was a certain Insubrian who was both a merchant and a crier; he, when he had come to Rome with his daughter, ventured to call a young man of high birth, named Cæsoninus, the son of a most thorough rogue: he gave his daughter in marriage to NA* * * * And she became the mother of you, a beast rather than a man.
[Concerning Piso’s maternal grandfather] NA* * * * When he had settled on the banks of the Po at Placentia, a few years afterwards he obtained the freedom of that city; for it was a city at that time. For before that he was considered a Gaul; then a man of Gallic extraction; and at last he began to be considered a sort of half-Placentian NA* * * *
NA* * * * That Insubrian grandfather of his adopted the elder NA* * * *
NA* * * * Your father wanted a more luxurious son-in-law than Caius Piso did at that time of his distress NA* * * * I did not give my daughter in marriage to that man whom, when I had the power of choosing from all the world, I should have selected in preference to any one. NA* * * *
NA* * * * When the whole of your relations arrive in a waggon NA* * * *
NA* * * You put out your head, butting at him NA* * * *
NA* * I was sitting next to Pompeius NA* * * *
I. 1. NA* * * * * * Do you not see now, do you not feel, O you beast, what complaints men make of your impudence? No one complains that a Syrian, that a man whom nobody knows, that some one of that body of lately emancipated slaves, was made consul. For that complexion, like that of slaves, and those hairy cheeks and discoloured teeth, did not deceive us: your eyes, your eyebrows, your brow, in short your whole countenance, which is, as it were, a sort of silent language of the mind, led men into error; this it was which led those to whom this man was unknown into mistake, and error, and blunders. There were but few of us who were acquainted with those foul vices of yours; few of us who knew the deficiency of your abilities, your stolid manner, and your embarrassed way of speaking. Your voice had never been heard in the forum; no one had had any experience of your wisdom in counsel: you had not only never performed any, I will not say illustrious exploit but any action at all that was known of either in war or at home. You crept into honours through men’s blunders, by the recommendation of some old smokedried images, though there is nothing in you at all resembling them except your colour. Will he also boast to me that he obtained even magistracy without one repulse? I am able to make that boast concerning myself with true exultation; for the Roman people did confer all its honours on me in that way—on me, a new man. But when you were made quæstor, even men who had never seen you gave that honour to your name. You were made ædile. A Piso was elected by the Roman people; but not the Piso that you are. The prætorship also was conferred in reality on your ancestors. They, though dead, were well known; but no one had as yet known anything of you, though you were alive.
When the Roman people made me quæstor among the first of the candidates, and first ædile, and first prætor, as they did by a unanimous vote, they were paying that compliment to me on my own account, and not to my family,—to my habits of life, not to my ancestors,—to my proved virtue, and not to any nobleness of birth of which they had heard. For why should I speak of my consulship? whether as to the manner in which it was obtained, or in which it was conducted? Wretched man that I am! am I comparing myself to this disgrace and plague of the republic? But I will say nothing with the view of drawing any comparison; but I will bring together those circumstances which are very widely separated. You were declared consul (I will say nothing more severe than what all men admit to be true) at a time when the affairs of the republic were in a state of great embarrassment, when the consuls Cæsar and Bibulus were at variance, when you had no objection to those men by whom you were declared consul thinking you undeserving of the light of day if you did not prove more worthless than Gabinius. All Italy, all ranks of men, the entire city declared me the first consul with acclamation even before they gave in their voting tablets.
II. But I say nothing of the circumstances under which each of us was elected. I will allow that chance may have been the mistress of the Campus Martius. It is more to the purpose to say how we conducted ourselves in our respective consulships, than how we obtained them.
I, on the first of January delivered the senate and all virtuous citizens from the fear of an agrarian law and of extravagant largesses. I preserved the Campanian district, if it was not expedient that it should be divided; if it was expedient, I reserved it for more respectable authors of the division. I, in the case of Caius Rabirius, a man on his trial for high treason, supported and defended against envy the authority of the senate, which had been interposed forty years before the time of my consulship; I, at the cost of incurring great enmity myself, but without any enmity falling on the senate, deprived some young men—virtuous and brave men indeed, but still men in such a peculiar condition that, if they had obtained magistracies, they would have convulsed the constitution of the republic—of the opportunity of canvassing the comitia. By my patience and complaisant conduct I propitiated Antonius my colleague, eager for a province, and cherishing many designs injurious to the republic. I, in the public assembly, renounced the province of Gaul, fully equipped and well-appointed with an army and with funds by the authority of the senate, which I had taken in exchange from Antonius, because I thought it advantageous to the republic at that time that I should do so, in spite of the outcry raised by the Roman people against my doing so. I ordered Lucius Catiline, planning not obscurely, but openly, the slaughter of the senate and the destruction of the city, to depart from the city, in order that we might be protected by our walls from his designs, from which our laws were insufficient to defend us. I wrested from the nefarious hands of the conspirators the weapons which in the last month of my consulship were aimed at the throats of the citizens. I seized, and brought to light, and extinguished the firebrands which were already kindled for the conflagration of the city.
III. Quintus Catulus, the chief of this body, the great leader of the public council, in the fullest possible house, called me the father of my country. This most illustrious man, who is at this moment sitting close to you, Lucius Gellius, in the hearing of all these people, said that a civic crown1 was owed to me by the republic. Though I was only clad in the garb of peace, the senate, by an unprecedented sort of supplication, opened the temples of the gods in my honour; not because I had successfully governed the republic, that being a compliment which had been paid to many, but because I had saved it, that being an honour which has never been conferred on any one. When in the assembly of the people, on giving up my office, I was prevented saying what I had intended by the tribune of the people, and when he would only allow me to take the oath, I swore without any hesitation that the republic and this city had been saved by my single exertions. On that day, the entire Roman people gave me in that assembly, not a congratulation to be remembered for the rest of the day, but they gave me immortality and eternal glory, when they themselves swearing also, with one voice and consent approved of my oath couched in such proud and triumphant words. And on that occasion, my return home from the forum was of such a nature that there did not appear to be a single citizen who was not in my train. And my consulship was conducted throughout in such a manner, that I did nothing without the advice of the senate,—nothing without the approbation of the Roman people; that in the rostra I constantly defended the senate,—in the senate-house I was the unwearied advocate of the people; that, in that manner, I united the multitude with the chief men, and the equestrian order with the senate. I have now briefly described my consulship.
IV. Dare now, O you Fury, to describe yours; the beginning of which was the Compitalitian games, then first celebrated since the time that Lucius Metellus and Quintus Marcius were consuls, contrary to the inclination of this order: games which Quintus Metellus (I am doing injury to a gallant man who is dead when I compare him, to whom this city has produced few equals, to this ill-omened beast)—but he, being consul elect, when a certain tribune of the people, relying on his own power, had ordered the master of the games to celebrate them in contempt of a resolution passed by the senate, though still a private individual, forbade it to be done, and he carried that point by the weight of his character, which he had not as yet any power to enforce. You, when the day of the Compitalitia1 had fallen on the first of January, permitted Sextus Clodius, who had never before filled any office which entitled him to wear the prætexta, to celebrate the games, and to strut about in a prætexta like a profligate man, as he was, a man thoroughly worthy of your countenance and regard. Therefore, when you had laid this foundation of your consulship, three days after, while you were looking on in silence, the Ælian and Fufian law, that bulwark and wall of tranquillity and peace, was overturned by Publius Clodius, that fatal prodigy and monster of the republic. Not only the guilds which the senate had abolished were restored, but countless new ones were established of all the dregs of the city, and even of slaves. The same man, immersed in unheard-of and impious debaucheries, abolished that old preceptress of modesty and chastity, the severity of the censor; while you in the mean time, you sepulchre of the republic, you who say that you were at that time consul at Rome, never by one single word intimated any opinion of your own amid such a terrible shipwreck of the state.
V. I have not yet said what you did yourself, but only what you allowed to be done. Nor does it make much difference, especially in a consul, whether he himself harasses the republic with pernicious laws and infamous harangues, or allows others to harass it. Can there be any excuse for a consul, I will not say being disaffected to the state, but sitting with his hands before him, dawdling, and sleeping amid the greatest commotions of the republic? For nearly a hundred years had we possessed the Ælian and Fufian law; for four hundred years had we enjoyed the censor’s power of deciding on, and animadverting on, the conduct of citizens; laws which, I will not say no wicked man has ever dared to attempt, but which no one has ever been able to uproot; a power which no one, not if he were ever so profligate, has ever attempted to diminish, so as to prevent a formal judgment from being passed every fifth year on our morals.
These things now, O worst of men, are entombed in the bosom of your consulship. Proceed on to the days which followed their funeral obsequies. In front of the tribunal of Aurelius, while you were not only shutting your eyes to the measure, which of itself would have been wicked enough, but while you were looking on with a more delighted countenance than usual, a levy of slaves was held by that man who never considered anything too infamous for him either to say or to do. Arms (O you betrayer of all temples) were placed in the temples of Castor by that robber, while you were looking on, to whom that temple, while you were consul, was a citadel for profligate citizens,—a receptacle for the veteran soldiers of Catiline,—a castle for forensic robbery, and the sepulchre of all law and of all religion. Not only my house, but the whole Palatine Hill, was crowded by the senate, by Roman knights, by the entire city, by the whole of Italy, while you not only never once came near that Cicero (for I omit all mention of domestic circumstances, which perhaps you would deny, and speak only of those facts which were done openly and are notorious)—you never, I say, came near that Cicero to whom all the comitia in which you were elected consul had given the first tablet of the prerogative tribe, but who in the senate was the third person whose opinion you asked; but more, you were present, ay, and you presided in the most cruel manner, over all the counsels which were entertained for the purpose of crushing me.
VI. But what was it that you dared to say to me myself, in the presence of my son-in-law, your own relation? “That Gabinius was a beggar, without either house or property; that he could not exist if he did not obtain a province; that you had hopes from a tribune of the people, if you united your plans to his; that you had no hope at all from the senate; that you were complying with his covetousness as I had done in the case of my colleague; that there was no reason why I should implore the protection of the consuls; that every one ought to take care of his own interests.” And these things I scarcely venture to say. I am afraid that there may be some one who does not clearly see his enormous wickedness, concealed as it is under his impenetrable countenance; still I will say it: he himself, at all events, will recognise the truth, and will feel some pain in recollecting his crimes.
Do you recollect, you infamous fellow, when about the fifth hour of the day I came to you with Caius Piso, that you came out of some hovel or other with your head wrapped up, and in slippers? and when you, with that fetid breath of yours, had filled us with the odour of that vile cookshop, that you made the excuse of your health, because you said that you were compelled to have recourse to some vinous remedies? and when we had admitted the pretence, (for what could we do?) we stood a little while amid the fumes and smell of your gluttony, till you drove us away by filthy language and still more filthy behaviour?
About two days afterwards you were brought forward in the assembly of the people by that man with whom you had shared your consulship in that manner; and when you were asked what were your sentiments respecting my consulship, you, a very grave authority, some Calatinus, I suppose, or Africanus, or Maximus, surely not a Cæsoninus half-Placentian Calventius, make answer, lifting one eyebrow up to your forehead, and depressing the other down to your chin, “that you did not approve of its cruelty.”
VII. On this, that noble man, so exceedingly worthy of being admitted into your counsels, praised you. Do you, then, you scoundrel, do you as consul condemn the senate for cruelty before an assembly of the people? For you are not condemning one who only obeyed the senate;—for that salutary and diligent report of the conspiracy was the work of the consul; the sentence and the punishment were the act of the senate. And when you find fault with them, you show what sort of consul you would have been at that time, if by chance it had so happened. You, I make no doubt, would have considered that Catiline deserved to be aided with pay and provisions. For, what was the difference between Catiline and that man to whom you sold the authority of the senate, the safety of the state, and the whole republic, for the reward of a province? For the consuls assisted Clodius while doing those very things which Catiline was only attempting when I as consul defeated his machinations. He, indeed, wished to massacre the senate; you two abolished it. He wished to destroy the laws by fire and sword; you two abrogated them. He wished the country to perish; you two aided him. What, during your consulship, was ever accomplished except by force of arms? That band of conspirators wished to fire the city; you two sought to burn the house of that man, to whom it was owing that the city was not burnt. And even these men, if they had a consul like you, would never have thought of burning the city. For they did not wish to deprive themselves of their homes; but as long as those consuls flourished, they thought that there would be no home for their wickedness. They desired the slaughter of the citizens; you desired to bring them to slavery; and in this were even more cruel than they; for, until your consulship, the spirit of liberty was so deeply implanted in this people, that they would have thought it preferable to die rather than to become slaves. But that pair of you, acting on the designs of Catiline and Lentulus, expelled me from my house, and confined Cnæus Pompeius to his; for they did not think that, as long as I stood firm, and remained in the city exerting all my vigilance for its defence, and as long as Cnæus Pompeius, the conqueror of all the world, opposed them, they should ever be able utterly to destroy the republic. You sought even to inflict punishment on me, by which you might make atonement to the shades of the dead conspirators. You poured forth upon me all the hatred which had been long nursed in the wicked feelings of impious men. And if I had not yielded for a while to their frenzy, I should have been murdered in the tomb of Catiline, under your leadership. But what greater proof do you want that there is no real difference between you and Catiline, than is the fact, that you awakened again that same band from the half-dead relics of Catiline’s army? that you collected all abandoned men from all quarters? that you let loose against me the dregs of the prisons? that you armed conspirators? that you sought to expose my person and the lives of all good men to their frenzy and to their swords?
VIII. But I come back now to that splendid harangue of yours. You are the man who disapprove of cruelty, are you? you who, when the senate had decided on displaying its grief and indignation by a change of their garments, and when you saw that the whole republic was grieving in the mourning of its most honourable order, you, O merciful man, what do you do? Why, what no tyrant in any country of barbarians ever dreamt of. For, I say nothing of the fact of a consul issuing an edict, that the senate should not obey a resolution of the senate; an action than which none more shameful can either be done or imagined. I return to the merciful disposition of that man, who thinks that the senate were over-cruel in preserving the country. He with his mate—whom however he was desirous to surpass in all vices,—dared to issue an edict that the senate should return to its usual dress, contrary to the resolution which that body itself had passed. What tyrant in any part of Scythia ever behaved in such a way as not to permit those men to mourn whom he was loading with misery? You leave them their grief, you take away the emblems of grief; you take away their tears, not by comforting them, but by threatening them. But even if the conscript fathers had changed their attire, not in consequence of any public resolution, but out of private affection or pity, still it would have been an intolerable stretch of power, that your interdict should prohibit them from doing so; but when the senate in a full house had passed a resolution to that effect, and all the other orders in the state had already changed their attire, then you, a consul dragged out of a dark dirty cookshop, with that shaved dancing girl of yours, forbade the senate of the Roman people to mourn for the setting and death of the republic.
IX. But a little time before, he even asked me what need I had of his assistance? why I had not resisted my enemies with my own resources? Just as if not only I, who had often been of assistance to many others, but as if any one were ever in so wholly desperate a condition, as to consider himself not only safer if he had that man for a protector, but more ready for the struggle if he had him only for an advocate or seconder. Was I, forsooth, anxious to lean on the counsel or protection of that piece of senseless cattle, of that bit of rotten flesh? was I likely to seek for any support or ornament for myself from that contemptible carcass? I suppose I was looking for a consul, I say, but one (that I was not likely to find in that hog) who might uphold the cause of the republic with his dignity and wisdom; not one who, like a stock or like a trunk of a tree if he only stood upright, might maintain the title of consul. For, as the whole of my cause was the cause of a consul and of the senate, I had need of the assistance of the consul and senate; one of which sources of aid was even turned by you when you were consuls to my injury; the other was entirely suspended, if not abolished in the republic.
But if you ask what were my intentions; I would not have yielded, and the republic should still have retained me in its embrace, if I had only had to contend with contemptible gladiators,1 and with you, and with your colleague. For the cause of that most admirable man Quintus Metellus was a wholly different one; a citizen whom, in my opinion, I consider equal in glory to the immortal gods; who thought it best for him to leave the city in order to avoid a contest with Caius Marius—a most gallant man, a consul, ay, a man who had been consul six times—and with his invincible legions. For what contest like this lay before me? Should I have bad to fight with Caius Marius or with any one like him, or rather with one consul who was a sort of barbarian Epicurus, and with the other, a mere hut-boy of Catiline’s? I was not, in truth, afraid of your supercilious looks, or of the cymbals and castanets of your colleague; nor was I so nervous, after having guided the vessel of the state amid the most terrible storms and billows of the republic, and placed it safe in harbour, as to fear the little cloud which gathered on your brow, or the polluted breath of your colleague.
They were other gales which I beheld threatening; they were other storms which my mind foresaw; and I did not so much yield to those other storms which were impending, but rather exposed myself alone to them to secure the safety of all the rest of the citizens.
Accordingly at that time, on my departure, all those wicked swords fell from the hands of those most cruel men; when you, O senseless and insane man,—while all good men shut themselves up and hid themselves out of grief, and lamented for the temples, and bewailed the very houses of the city,—you, I say, embraced that fatal monster, the progeny of nefarious licentiousness, and civil bloodshed, and the foulness of every sort of wickedness, and the impunity of every crime; and in the same temple at that very same time and in the very same place, you forbade the senate to express its opinion not only on my destruction, but on that of their country.
X. Why need I speak of the banquets of those days, why of your joy and self-congratulation, why of your most intemperate drinking-bouts with your crew of infamous companions? Who in those days ever saw you sober, who ever saw you doing any thing which was worthy of a freeman; who, in short, ever saw you in public at all? while the house of your colleague was resounding with song and cymbals, and while he himself was dancing naked at banquets; in which even then, when he was going round in the circle of the dance, he seemed to have no fear of any revolution of fortune. But this man, who is not quite so refined in gluttony nor so musical, lay stupified amid the reeking orgies of his Greek crew. The banquets celebrated by that fellow at the time of all this misery of the republic, resembled what is reported of the feast of the Centaurs and Lapithæ; and it is quite impossible to tell in what sort of debauchery he indulged to the most disgraceful excess.
Will you dare to make mention of your consulship? will you dare to say that you ever were consul at Rome? What? do you think that the consulship consists in being attended by lictors and in wearing the toga prætexta? ornaments which, while you were consul, you wished to belong also to Sextus Clodius. And do you, O you dog of Clodius’s, think that the consulship consists wholly in the possession of these insignia? A consul ought to be a consul in courage, in wisdom, in good faith, in dignity, in vigilance, in prudence, in performing all the labours and duties of the consulship, and above all things—as, indeed, the name of the magistracy itself points out—in consulting the interests of the republic. Am I to think that man a consul who thought that the senate had no existence in the republic? and am I to account him a consul, who takes no heed of that great council without which, even in the time of the kingly power, the kings could not have any existence at Rome? But I pass over all those points. When a levy of slaves was being held in the forum; when arms were in open daylight being carried to the temple of Castor; and when that temple, having its doors thrown down and its steps torn up, was occupied by the remnant of the conspirators, and by the man who had once been a pretended accuser of Catiline, but who now was seeking to be his avenger; when Roman knights were being banished; when virtuous men were being driven with stones out of the forum; when the senate were prevented not only from assisting the republic, but even from mourning over it; when that citizen, whom this venerable body, with the assent of Italy and all the nations of the earth, had styled the saviour of his country, was being driven away without a trial, in a manner contrary to all law, contrary to all precedent, by slaves and an armed mob;—I will not say, with your assistance (though I might say that with truth), but certainly without your lifting up your voice against it;—will any one believe that there were any consuls at all at Rome at that time? Who, then, are robbers, if you were consuls? Who can be called pirates, or enemies, or traitors, or tyrants?
XI. Great, O senators, is the name, great is the honour, great is the dignity, great is the majesty of a consul. Your narrow mind, O Piso, your paltry soul, your spiritless heart, is unable to comprehend that greatness. The weakness of your intellect cannot grasp it; your inexperience of prosperity cannot support so dignified, so solemn a character. Seplasia,1 in truth, as I heard said, the moment that it beheld you, refused to acknowledge you as the consul of Campania. It had heard of the Decii, of the Magii, it knew something also about Jubellius Taurea; and if those men did not display all the moderation which is usually found in our consuls, at all events there was a pomp about them, there was a magnificence, there was a gait and behaviour worthy of Seplasia and of Capua. Indeed, if those perfumers had beheld your colleague Gabinius as their duumvir,2 they would sooner have acknowledged him. He at least had carefully-dressed hair, and perfumed fringes of curls, and anointed and carefully-rouged cheeks, worthy of Capua,—of Capua, I mean, such as it used to be. For the Capua that now is is full of most excellent characters, of most gallant men, of most virtuous citizens, and of men most friendly and devoted to me; not one of whom ever saw you at Capua clad in your prætexta without groaning out of regret for me, by whose counsels they recollected that the whole republic and that city in particular had been preserved. They had paid me the honour of a gilded statue; they had adopted me as their especial patron; they considered that it was owing to me that they were still enjoying their lives, their fortunes, and their children; they had defended me when I was present against your piratical attacks, by their decrees, and by their deputations; and when I was absent they recalled me, when that great man Cnæus Pompeius submitted the motion to them, and tore the weapons of your wickedness out of the body of the republic.
Were you consul when my house on the Palatine Hill was set on fire, not by any accident, but by men applying firebrands to it at your instigation? Was there ever before any conflagration of any great extent or importance in the city without the consul coming to bring assistance? But you at that very time were sitting in the house of your mother-in-law, close to my house; you had opened her house to receive the plunder of mine; you were sitting there not for the purpose of extinguishing, but as the originator of the fire, and you—I may almost say—were yourself, as consul, supplying burning firebrands to the Furies of Clodius’s party.
XII. And all the rest of the year did any one consider you as consul? Did any one obey you? Did any one ever rise up to show respect to you when you came into the senate-house? Did any one ever think it worth his while to answer you when you asked his opinion? In short, is that year at all to be counted in the republic, when the senate was mute, the courts of justice silent,—when all good men were mourning, when the violence of your troops of banditti was ranging over the whole city, and when not one citizen only had departed from the city, but when the city itself had yielded to the wickedness and frenzy of you and Gabinius?
But even then, O you impious Cæsoninus, you did not emerge from the miserable vileness of your nature, when after a time the re-awakened virtue of a most illustrious man quickly demanded the restoration of one who was his own true friend, and a citizen who had deserved well of the state, and of the ancient customs and principles of the republic. Nor would that great man permit the pestilence of your wickedness to remain any longer in that republic, which he himself had embellished and whose power he had extended. But when that Gabinius, such as he is, a man who is surpassed in infamy by you alone, recollected himself,—with difficulty indeed, but still he did recollect himself,—he contended against his dear friend Clodius, at first only feignedly, then very unwillingly, but at last with genuine ardour and vehemence, in support of Cnæus Pompeius. And in that spectacle the impartiality of the Roman people was very admirable. It looked on like a master of gladiators, and whichever of them perished, it thought would be an equal advantage to itself; but if both fell, that indeed would be a most heavenly blessing. But still your colleague did do something. He upheld the authority of a most admirable man. He was himself a wicked man; he was a mere ruffian and gladiator himself; but still he was fighting against one who was as wicked and as much a gladiator and ruffian as himself. You, forsooth, religious and conscientious man that you were, were reluctant to violate the treaty which you had ratified in my blood concerning the bargain made about the provinces. For that fellow, the adulterer with his own sister, had made this bargain for himself, that if he gave you a province, if he gave you an army, if he gave you money torn from the very life-blood of the republic, you were to give yourself up to him as his partner and assistant in all his crimes. Therefore, in that tumult the fasces were broken; you yourself were wounded; every day there were weapons, stonings, and banishments. At last a man was arrested close to the senate, armed with a sword, who it was notorious had been placed there for the purpose of assassinating Pompeius.
XIII. Did any one all that time hear, not only of any act of yours, or of any report of yours to the senate of all these transactions, but of even any word at all uttered by you on the subject, or of any complaint of yours? Do you think that you were consul at that time, you, during whose period of authority the man who, by means of the authority of the senate, had saved the republic, and who in Italy had united all parties of all nations by the celebration of three triumphs, made up his mind that he could not appear in public with safety? Were you and your colleague consuls at that time when, if you ever ventured to say one word on any subject, or to submit any motion whatever to the senate, the whole body raised an outcry against you, and declared that you should do nothing whatever till you had first made a motion concerning me and my affairs? and when you both, though in fact you were fettered by your treaty with that man, still say that you were anxious to do so, but that you were hindered by the law?
A law which even to private individuals seemed to be no law at all, having been framed by slaves, posted up by violence, carried by piratical fury, when the senate was driven away, when all virtuous men had been frightened from the forum, when the republic had been taken by storm in violation of all laws whatever, and which was drawn up in violation of every precedent; were men who said that they were afraid of that law, consuls? could, I will not say the minds of men, but could any records or annals even style them such? For even if you did not consider that a law, which was contrary to all law, being the proscription by the mere power of a tribune of a citizen who had never been condemned, and the deprivation of his rights and the confiscation of his property, but nevertheless were held fast by the agreement which you had made; who would consider you to have been then, not only consuls, but even free men at all, when your minds were hampered by a bribe, your tongues padlocked by wages? But if, on the other hand, you, being the only people in the state who did so, did consider that a law; can any one think that you were consuls then, or that you are men of consular rank now, you who are ignorant of the laws, and principles, and usages, and rights of that state in which you wish to be accounted some of the chief citizens?
When you were going in your robes as generals into those provinces which you had (shall I say bought, or stolen?) did any one consider you consuls? Therefore I imagine, even if men did abstain from escorting you on your departure from the city with a numerous attendance to pay you a compliment and do honour to you, at all events they followed you with their good wishes as consuls, but with curses as enemies or traitors.
XIV. Did you, O you most horrible and foul monster! dare also to speak of that departure of mine,—that evidence or your wickedness and cruelty,—as if it were a subject for your abuse and insult? And when you did so, then, O conscript fathers, I received an immortal reward of your attachment to, and favourable opinion of me,—when you crushed the frenzy and insolence of that abject and frightened man, not only with a murmur, but with a loud and indignant outcry. Will you speak of the mourning of the senate,—the regret of the equestrian order,—the universal sadness of Italy,—the silence of the senate-house, which lasted the whole year,—the uninterrupted vacation of the courts of justice and the forum,—and all the other circumstances of that time, as grounds for abuse of me? They were the wounds which my departure inflicted on the republic. And if my departure had been ever so full of calamity, still it would have been deserving of pity rather than of insult; and it would have been considered as connected with my glory rather than with any reproach; and it would have been accounted my misfortune only, but your crime and wickedness.
But when,—(perhaps this thing which I am about to say may appear a strange thing to you to hear, but still I will certainly say what I feel to be true,)—when I, O conscript fathers, have had such kindnesses and such honours conferred on me by you, I not only do not consider that a calamity, but, if I could have any feeling whatever unconnected with the interests of the republic, (which is hardly possible,) I should consider it, as far as my private interests were concerned, a fortune greatly to be wished for and desired by me. And, if I may compare that day which was most joyful to you with that one which was most sorrowful to me, which do you think most desirable to a virtuous and wise man,—to depart from his country in such a manner that all his fellow-citizens pray for his safety, for his preservation, and for his return, which happened to me; or, (which happened to you when you left the city,) to depart in such a way that every one should curse him, should pray for harm to him, and should wish that that road might be his only one? I call the gods to witness, that if I were so hated by all mortals,—especially if I were so justly and deservedly hated,—I should think any banishment whatever preferable to any province that could be given to me.
XV. But to proceed. If that most disturbed period, when I was forced to depart from the city, is superior to the time of your greatest triumph, why need I compare our other circumstances, which in your case were all full of disgrace, and in mine of dignity? On the first day of January,—the first day of hope which dawned on the republic after my setting and eclipse,—the senate, in a very full house, amid a crowd gathered together from all Italy, on the motion of a most illustrious man, Publius Lentulus, with one voice and one consent pronounced my recal. The same senate recommended me to all foreign nations, and to all our own magistrates and lieutenants, by its authority and by letters under the hand of the consuls, not (as you, you Insubrian, have dared to say) an exile from my country, but (as the senate itself styled me at the very time) a citizen who had been the saviour of the republic. The senate thought it right to implore, by the voice and letters of the consul, the assistance of all the citizens in all Italy, who were desirous of securing the safety of the republic, to assist also in promoting the safety of me, a single individual. For the sake of the preservation of my life and rights, the whole of Italy assembled at Rome at one time, as if in obedience to a signal which had been given. Concerning my safety most magnificent and admirable speeches were made by Publius Lentulus, a most excellent man and a most admirable consul, by Cnæus Pompeius, that most illustrious and invincible citizen, and by the other leading men of the city; and concerning me the senate passed a resolution, at the instigation and on the especial motion of Cnæus Pompeius, that if any one hindered my return in any manner, he should be considered as an enemy of the state; and the authoritative opinion of the senate concerning me was declared in such language, that no triumph was ever decreed to any one in a more complimentary or more honourable manner than that in which my safety and restoration to my country was provided for.
When all the magistrates had concurred in the law respecting me, with the exception of one prætor, from whom it was not reasonable to ask it, as he was the brother of my great enemy, and with the exception also of two tribunes of the people, who had been bought like slaves,1 then Publius Lentulus the consul passed a law concerning me in the comitia centuriata, acting with the consent of his colleague, Quintus Metellus, whom the same republic, which had alienated us from one another in his tribuneship, reconciled to me again in his consulship, in consequence of the virtue of one most excellent and most sensible man. And why need I tell you how that law was received? I hear from you yourselves that no pretext was admitted in the case of any one whatever as sufficiently reasonable to excuse him from being present; that at no comitia that ever were held was there either a more numerous or a more respectable number of men assembled; and this I can certainly see for myself,—what the public records prove,—that you were the movers of the vote, that you were the distributors and keepers of the voting tablets,—and that you did of your own accord for the sake of ensuring my safety, though no one requested you to do so, what, when the honours of your own relations are at stake, you avoid doing under the plea either of your age, or of your rank.
XVI. Compare, now, my fine Epicurus, brought forward out of his sty, not out of his school,—compare, if you dare, your absence with mine. You obtained a consular province with no other limitations than those which the law of your covetousness, not the law of your son-in-law, had agreed upon. For by that most just and admirable law of Cæsar free nations were really and truly free; but by that law which no one except you and your colleague considered a law at all, all Achaia, and Thessaly, and Athens,—in short, the whole of Greece, was made over to you. You had an army, not of that strength which the senate or people of Rome had assigned to you, but such as your own lust had prompted you to enlist. You had entirely drained the treasury. Well, what exploits did you perform in this command, with this army, and in this consular province? I ask, O conscript fathers, what exploits he performed. A man who, the moment he arrived—(I am not yet speaking of his acts of rapine, I am not yet speaking of the sums of money which he extorted, or seized, or levied, nor of his slaughter of our allies, nor of his murders of his own friends, nor of his perfidy, nor of his inhumanity, nor of his wicked actions: presently, if you choose to hear me, I will argue with him as with a thief, as with a robber of temples, as with an assassin; but for the present I am only going to compare my own fortune when stripped of everything, with that of that great commander when at the height of prosperity.) Who ever had any province with a fine army, without sending some letters, recounting his achievements, to the senate? But who ever had so important a province as that, with so splendid an army? who ever had Macedonia of all provinces,—a land which has on its borders so many tribes of barbarians that the commanders in Macedonia have always had only just those boundaries of their province which were also the boundaries of their swords and javelins,—without sending such letters? Letters! why, not only several men who have had only prætorian authority have triumphed, but there is not one single instance of any man who had exercised consular authority in that province returning in health and vigour, without celebrating a triumph for his achievements performed in that command. It is quite a new thing; this which I am going to mention is newer still. This vulture of that province—(hear it, O ye gods)—has been styled Imperator!
XVII. And did you not even then, my great Paullus,1 dare to send expresses to Rome crowned with laurel? Yes, says he, I sent them. Did you? Who ever read them? who ever demanded to have them read? For it makes no difference, as far as my argument is concerned, whether you, being overwhelmed by the consciousness of your wicked actions, never dared to write any letters to that body which you had treated with contempt, which you had ill-treated, which you had sought to destroy, or whether your friends concealed your letters, and by their silence expressed their condemnation of your rashness and audacity. And I do not know whether I should not prefer that you should appear so utterly destitute of all shame as to have sent the letters, and that your friends should appear to have had more modesty and more sense than yourself, rather than that you should seem to have had some little modesty, and that your conduct should not have been condemned by the judgment of your friends.
But even if you had not shut the senate-house against yourself for ever by your nefarious insults to this order, still, what exploit was ever performed or achieved by you in that province, concerning which it would have been becoming for you to have written to the senate in the way of congratulation? Was it the way in which Macedonia was harassed? or the shameful loss of the towns? or the manner in which the allies were plundered? or the devastation of the lands? or the fortifying of Thessalonica? or the occupation of our military road? or the destruction of our army by sword and famine, and cold and pestilence? But you who did not write any account of anything to the senate, as in the city you were discovered to be more worthless than Gabinius, so in your province you turned out somewhat more inactive than even he. For that gulf of all things,—that glutton, born for his own belly, not for glory or renown,—when he had deprived the Roman knights in his province; when he had deprived the farmers of the revenue, men united to us by mutual goodwill and in dignity;—when he had deprived, I say, all of them of their fortunes, many of them of their franchises and of their lives; when with that mighty army he had done nothing except plunder the cities, lay waste the lands, and drain the private houses of his province, dared (for what will he not dare?) to send letters at last to the senate to demand a supplication!
XVIII. O ye immortal gods! Do you, do ye,—ye two whirlpools and rocks which endanger the republic,—do ye seek to disparage my fortune? to extol your own? when concerning me in my absence such resolutions of the senate were passed, such speeches were delivered, such agitation pervaded all the municipal towns and colonies, such votes were passed by all the farmers of the revenue, by all the different guilds, by all ranks and classes of the citizens, as I should not only never have dared to hope for, but as I could not possibly have dreamt of; and while you, on the other hand, have met with the everlasting brand of the deepest infamy. Should I, if I were to see you and Gabinius both nailed to a cross, feel greater rejoicing at the laceration of your bodies, than I do at the tearing to pieces of your reputations? Surely not: for there is no punishment imaginable, which, owing to some accident or other, even virtuous and brave men may not have inflicted on them. And this is what even your Greek followers of pleasure say; men whom I wish you would listen to in the spirit in which they deserve to be listened to; you would never have immersed yourself in such a vortex of wickedness. But you listen to them in brothels, in scenes of adultery, in revelling and drunkenness.
But they themselves, those very men who define evil by pain, and good by pleasure, say that the wise man, even if he were shut up in Phalaris’s bull, and roasted by fire being placed under him, would still say that that was pleasant, and would not allow himself to be moved the least from his assertion. They insist upon it that the power of virtue is so great, that it is absolutely impossible for a virtuous man ever to be otherwise than happy. What, then, is punishment? what is chastisement? A thing which, in my opinion, can happen to no one unless he be guilty; it is dishonesty undertaken, it is a mind hampered and overwhelmed by conscience, it is the hatred of all virtuous men, it is the deserved brand of the senate, it is the loss of dignity.
XIX. Nor does that illustrious man, Marcus Regulus, whom the Carthaginians, having cut off his eyelids and bound him in a machine, killed by keeping him awake, appear to have had punishment inflicted on him. Nor does Caius Marius, whom Italy, which he had saved, saw sunk in the marshes of Minturnæ, and whom Africa, which he had subdued, beheld banished and shipwrecked. For those were the wounds of fortune, not of guilt; but punishment is the penalty of crime. Nor should I, if I were now to pray for evils to fall upon you, as I often have done, (and indeed the immortal gods have heard those prayers of mine,) pray for disease, or death, or tortures to befal you. That is an execration worthy of Thyestes, the work of a poet who wishes to affect the minds of the common people, not of philosophers, that you,
I do not mean to say that I should be much vexed if such a thing were to happen; but still it would be an accident such as all men are liable to. Marcus Marcellus, who was three times consul, a man of the most excessive virtue, and piety, and military glory, was lost at sea; though through his virtue he still lives in glory and renown. A death such as that is to be attributed to fortune, not to be considered a punishment. What then is punishment? What is chastisement? What is stoning? What is the cross? It is punishment that there should be two generals in the provinces of the Roman people, that they should have armies, that they should be styled “Imperator,” that one of them should be so completely cowed by the consciousness of his crimes and of his atrocities, as not to dare to send any letter of any sort to the senate from that province which was of all others the richest in triumphs. From that province that man, so distinguished for every sort of worth and dignity, Lucius Torquatus, was returning, when on account of his mighty deeds he was, on my motion, styled “Imperator” by the senate. In that province it was that those well-deserved triumphs of Cnæus Dolabella, and Caius Curio, and Marcus Lucullus were earned within the last few years; and from that, while you were the commander, no messenger whatever was ever sent to the senate.
From the other consul certainly letters have been brought and read, and motions respecting him have been submitted to the senate. O ye immortal gods, could I have desired that my chief enemy should be branded with such ignominy as no one ever was before? that that senate, which has now got into such a regular habit and practice of kindness as to confer on those who have managed the affairs of the republic successfully, honours hitherto unexampled, both in the number of days which they last, and in the language in which they are decreed, should refuse belief to the letters of this man alone, when reporting his success, and should refuse him what he demanded in them?
XX. I feed on these facts, I am delighted, I am in ecstasies at them. I am delighted that this order thinks of you both as it does of its bitterest enemies; that the Roman knights, the other orders, and the whole state detests you both; that there is no good man, no, and no citizen who remembers that he is a citizen, who does not shun you both with his eyes, reject you with his ears, scorn you in his mind, and shudder at the bare recollection of your consulship. This is what I have always wished respecting you, this is what I have desired, this is what I have prayed for. Even more has happened than I could have desired. For, in truth, I never formed a wish that you should lose your armies. That has happened quite beyond my wish, though I cannot say that it has grieved me; but it never could have occurred to me to wish you the insanity and frenzy into which you have both fallen. Still it might well have been wished. But I had forgotten that that was the most invariable of all the punishments which were appointed by the immortal gods for wicked and impious men.
For think not, O conscript fathers, that, as you see on the stage, wicked men are, by the instigation of the gods, terrified by the blazing torches of the Furies. It is his own dishonesty, his own crime, his own wickedness, his own audacity that deprives each individual of sense and discernment. These are the Furies, these the flames, these the firebrands which distress the impious. Must I not think you senseless and frantic, and out of your mind,—must I not think you madder than that Orestes in the tragedy, or than Athamas, when you dared first of all to act so, (for this is the head and front of your offending,) and again, a short time afterwards, when Torquatus, a most influential and conscientious man, pressed you openly to confess that you left Macedonia, that province into which you had carried so vast an army, without one single soldier? I say nothing of your having lost the greater part of your army; that might be owing to your ill fortune. But what reason can you allege for having disbanded any part of your army? What power had you to do so? What law, what resolution of the senate authorized such a step? Where was your right to do so? What precedent was there for it? What is this but madness, but ignorance of men, ignorance of the laws, and of the senate, and of the constitution?
To wound one’s body is a trifle; to wound one’s life, one’s character, one’s safety, like this, is a more serious business. If you had discharged your household, a matter which would have concerned no one but yourself, your friends would have thought that you required to be put under restraint; could you have disbanded the protection of the republic, the garrison of the province, without the orders of the Roman senate or people, if you had been in your sound senses?
XXI. Now for your colleague; he, having dissipated an enormous booty which he had acquired by draining the fortunes of the farmers of the revenue, and the lands and cities of the allies, after his insatiable lusts had swallowed some portion of that booty, his new and unexampled luxury had devoured part, when part had gone in purchases in those districts where he plundered everything, and part had been spent in effecting exchanges of property for the purpose of heaping hill upon hill in this Tusculan estate of his; after he had become needy, and after that intolerable mass that he was heaping up had been interrupted and had come to a standstill,—he, I say, then sold himself, and his fasces, and the army of the Roman people, and the oracular consent and prohibition of the immortal gods, and the answer of the priests, and the authority of the senate, and the commands of the people, and the name and dignity of the Roman empire, to the king of Egypt. Though he had the boundaries of his province as extensive as he had desired, as he had wished, as he had procured them to be, by purchasing them at the price of my existence as a citizen, still he could not contain himself within them; he led his army out of Syria. How could he lead it out of his province? He let himself out as a hired comrade to the king of Alexandria.
What can be more shameful than this? He came into Egypt. He engaged the men of Alexandria in battle. When was it that either this senatorial body or the Roman people undertook this war? He took Alexandria. What else are we to expect from his frenzy, but that he should send letters to the senate concerning such mighty exploits? If he had been in his senses, if he had not been already paying to his country and to the immortal gods that penalty which is the most terrible of all, by his frenzy and insanity, would he have dared, (I say nothing of his leaving his province, of his taking his army out of it, of his declaring and carrying on war of his own accord, of his entering a foreign kingdom without any command from the people or from the senate to do so; conduct which many of the ancient laws, and especially the Cornelian law concerning treason, and the Julian law concerning extortion, forbid in the plainest manner; but I say nothing of all this,)—would he, I say, if he had not been most outrageously mad, have dared to take to himself the province which Publius Lentulus, a man most sincerely attached to this order, had abdicated from scruples of religion, though he had obtained it both by the authority of the senate and by lot, when even if there were no religious obstacles in his case, still the usage of our ancestors, and all precedents, and the severest penalties of the laws forbade it?
XXII. But since we have begun to institute a comparison between our fortunes, we will say no more of the return of Gabinius, whom, though he has cut the ground from under his own feet. I still wish to see, to admire the impudence of the man. Let us, if you please, compare your return with mine. Mine was such, that the whole way from Brundusium to Rome I was beholding one unbroken line of the inhabitants of all Italy. For there was no district, nor municipal town, nor prefecture, nor colony, from which a deputation was not sent by the public authority to congratulate me. Why should I speak of my arrival in the different towns? why of the crowds of men who thronged out to meet me? why of the way in which the fathers of families with their wives and children gathered together to greet me? why of those days which were celebrated by every one on my arrival and return, as if they had been solemn festival days of the immortal gods? That one day was to me like an immortality, on which I returned to my country, and saw the senate which had come forth to meet me, and the whole Roman people; while Rome itself, torn, if I may so say, from its foundations, seemed to come forward to embrace her saviour. Rome, which received me in such a manner that not only all men and all women of all classes, and ages, and orders of society, of every fortune and every rank, but that even the walls and houses of the city and temples appeared to be exulting. And on the succeeding days, the pontiffs, the consuls, the conscript fathers, placed me in that very house from which you had driven me, which you had pillaged, and which you had burnt, and voted that my house was to be built up for me again at the public expense, an honour which they had never paid to any one before.
Now you know the circumstances of my return. Now compare yours with it, since, having lost your army, you have brought nothing safe back with you except that pristine countenance and impudence of yours. And who is there who knows where you first came to with those laurelled lictors of yours? What mæanders, what turnings and windings did you thread, while seeking for the most solitary possible places? What municipal town saw you? What friend invited you? What entertainer beheld you? Did you not make night take the place of day? solitude of society? a cookshop of the town? so that you did not appear to be returning from Macedonia as a noble commander, but to be being brought back as a disgraced corpse? and even Rome itself was polluted by your arrival.
XXIII. Alas for the disgrace of the family, I will not say the Calpurnian family, but the Calventian; nor will I say the disgrace of this city, but of the municipality of Placentia; nor of your father’s family, but of your breeches-wearing1 kinsmen. How, I say, did you come? Who, I will not say of these men, or of the rest of the citizens, but who, even of your own lieutenants, came to meet you? For Lucius Flaccus, a man most undeserving of the disgrace of being your lieutenant, and more worthy of those counsels by which he was united with me in my consulship for the salvation of the republic, was with me when some one came and said that you had been seen wandering not far from the gate with your lietors. I know, too, that one of the very bravest of men, a man skilful both in war and in civil business, an intimate friend of mine, Quintus Marcius, one of those lieutenants whose “Imperator” you had been called in battle, when you were in reality a long way off, was at the time of your arrival sitting quietly in his own house. But why do I count up all the people who did not go forth to meet you? when I say that scarcely any one did, not even of that most officious body of candidates for office, though they had been repeatedly warned and requested to do so, both on that very day, and many days before.
Short gowns were ready for the lictors at the gate, which they took, and laid aside their military cloaks, and so formed a new crowd to escort their chief. And in this manner he, the Macedonian “Imperator,” returning home from his mighty and from his important province, after three years’ government, entered the city in such a guise that no obscure pedlar ever returned home in a more solitary condition. And yet this is the very point on which (so ready is he to defend himself) he finds fault with me. When I said that he had entered the city by the Cœlimontane gate, that ever ready man wanted to lay me a wager that he had entered by the Esquiline gate; as if I was bound to know, or as if any one of you had heard, or as if it had anything on earth to do with the matter, by what gate you had entered, as long as it was not by the triumphal one; for that is the gate which had previously always been open for the Macedonian proconsuls. You are the first person ever discovered who, having been invested with consular authority there, did not triumph on your return from Macedonia.
XXIV. But you have heard, O conscript fathers, the voice of the philosopher. He has said that he never had any desire for a triumph. O you wickedness! you pest! you disgrace! when you were extinguishing the senate, and putting up for sale the authority of this order,—when you were knocking down your own consulship to a tribune of the people, and overturning the republic, and betraying my privileges as a citizen, and my safety, for the mere bribe of a province,—if you then had no desire for a triumph, what is it that you will allege in your defence that you did desire so ardently? For I have often seen men, who appeared to me and to others to be over desirous of a province, veil and excuse their desire under the pretence of eagerness for a triumph. This is what Decimus Silanus the consul lately said before this order,—this is what my colleague, too, stated. Nor is it possible for any one to desire an army, and openly to demand one, without putting forward as his pretext for such a demand his desire of a triumph. But if the senate and people of Rome had compelled you (when you did not desire it, or though you even endeavoured to avoid it) to undertake a war and to command an army, still it would have been the act of a narrow and mean spirit to despise the honour and dignity of a well-earned triumph. For as it is a proof of a trifling character to catch at such praise as is derived from empty reports, and to hunt after all the shadows of even false glory; so it is surely a sign of a very worthless disposition, of one that hates all light and all respectability, to reject true glory, which is the most honourable reward of genuine virtue. But when the senate was so far from requesting and compelling you to take this charge upon you, that it was only unwillingly and under compulsion that it allowed you to do so; when, not only did the Roman people betray no eagerness that you should do so, but not one single freeman voted for it; when that province was your wages for having, I will not say overturned, but utterly destroyed the constitution, and when this covenant ran through all your wicked actions, that, if you handed over the whole republic to nefarious robbers, as a reward for that conduct, Macedonia should be handed over to you with whatever boundaries you chose; when you were draining the treasury, when you were depriving Italy of all its youth, when you were passing over the vast sea in the winter season,—if you did at that time despise a triumph, what was it, O you most insane of pirates, that urged you on, unless it was some blind desire for booty and rapine?
It is now in the power of Cnæus Pompeius to act on your plan. For he has made a mistake. He had never had a taste for that philosophy of yours. The foolish man has already triumphed three times. Crassus, I am ashamed of you. What was the reason that, after a most formidable war had been brought to a termination by you, you showed such eagerness to get that laurel crown decreed to you by the senate? Publius Servilius, Quintus Metellus, Caius Curio, Lucius Africanus, why did not you all become pupils of this learned, of this most wise man, before falling into such blunders as you did? Even my friend Caius Pomptinus has it not now in his power to retrace his steps, for he is prevented by the religious ceremonies which have been begun.1 O you foolish Camilli, and Curii, and Fabricii, and Calatini, and Scipios, and Marcelli, and Maximi! O you insane Paullus, you blockhead Marius! Oh how stupid, too, were the fathers of both these consuls; for they, too, celebrated triumphs.
XXV. But since we cannot change what is already past, why does this mannikin, this Epicurus of mud and clay, delay to instil these admirable precepts of wisdom into that most illustrious and consummate general, his son-in-law? That man, believe me, is influenced by glory. He burns, he is on fire with the desire of a well-deserved and great triumph. He has not learnt the same lessons that you have. Send him a book. Or rather, at once, if you yourself can contrive to meet him in person, think over what language you can find to check and extinguish that violent passion of his; and as a man of moderation and consistency, you will have great influence over one who is quite giddy with his desire for glory; as a learned man, you will easily convince an ignorant man like him; as his father-in-law, no doubt you will prevail with your son-in-law. For you will say to him, like a man formed to persuade, as you are, neat, accomplished, a polished specimen of the schools, “How is it possible, O Cæsar, for these supplications, which have now been decreed so often, and for so many days, to delight you so excessively? Men are greatly mistaken about these things,—things which the gods disregard, as that godlike Epicurus of ours has said, nor are they in the habit of being propitious to, or angry with, any one on account of such trifles.”
I am afraid you will hardly get him to agree with you when you argue in this manner. For he will see that they both are, and have been, angry with you.
Turn to another school, and then speak thus of a triumph: “What is the meaning of that chariot? What is the use of those generals bound in front of the chariot? and of the images of towns? and of the gold? and of the silver? and of the lieutenants on horseback? and of the tribunes? What avail all the shouts of the soldiery? and all that procession? To hunt for applause, to be carried through the city, to wish to be gazed upon, are all mere trifles, believe me; things to please children. There is nothing in all those things which you can grasp as solid,—nothing which you can refer to as causing pleasure to the body. You see me, who have returned from the same province, on returning from which Titus Flamininus, and Lucius Paullus, and Quintus Metellus, and Titus Didius, and multitudes of others, inflamed with empty desires, have celebrated triumphs; you see me, I say, returning in such a spirit, that I trampled my Macedonian laurels under foot at the Esquiline gate,—that I arrived with fifteen ill-dressed men thirsting at the Cœlimontane gate, where my freedman had a couple of days before hired me a house suited to so great a general; and if that house had not been to be let, I should have pitched myself a tent in the Campus Martius. Meanwhile, O Cæsar, in consequence of my neglect of all that triumphal pomp, my money remains safe at home, and will remain there. Immediately on my return, I gave in my accounts to the treasury, as your law required; but in no other particular have I complied with your law. And if you examine those accounts, you will see that no one has ever gained greater advantage from his learning than I have. For they are drawn up so learnedly and so cleverly, that the clerk who made the return to the treasury, when he had written them all out, scratching his head with his left hand, murmured out, ‘Indeed, the accounts are wonderfully clear, the money οἴχεται.’ ”1 If you make him this speech, I have no doubt that you will be able to recal him to his senses even when actually stepping into his chariot.
XXVI. O thou darkness, thou filth, thou disgrace! O thou forgetful of your father’s family, scarcely mindful of your mother’s,—there is actually something so broken-down, so mean, so base, so sordid, even too low to be considered worthy of the Milanese crier, your grandfather.
Lucius Crassus, the wisest man of our state, searched almost the whole Alps with javelins to find out some pretext for a triumph where there was no enemy. A man of the highest genius, Caius Cotta, burnt with the same desire, though he could find no regular enemy. Neither of them had a triumph, because his colleague deprived one of that honour, and death prevented the other from enjoying it. A little while ago, you derided Marcus Piso’s desire for a triumph, from which you said that you yourself were far removed; for he, even if it was not a very important war which he had conducted, as you say that it was not, still did not think that an honour to be slighted. But you are more learned than Piso, more wise than Cotta. Richer in prudence, and genius, and wisdom than Crassus, you despise those things which those idiots, as you term them, have considered glorious: and if you blame them for having been covetous of glory, though they had conducted wars which were insignificant, or no wars at all; surely, you who have subdued such mighty nations, and performed such great achievements, were not bound to despise the fruit of your labours, the reward of your dangers, the tokens of your valour. And the truth is that you did not despise them, even though you may be wiser than Themista;1 but you shrank from exposing even your iron countenance to be chastised by the reproaches of the senate.
You see now, since I have been so much an enemy to myself as to compare myself to you, that my departure, and my absence, and my return, were all so far superior to yours, that all these circumstances have shed immortal glory on me, and have inflicted everlasting infamy on you. To come even to our present daily regular manner of life in this city, will you venture to prefer your respectability, your influence, your reputation at home, your energy in the forum, your counsel, your assistance, your authority, and your opinion as a senator, to that which belongs to us, or, I would rather say, to even the lowest and most desperate of men?
XXVII. Come, the senate hates you; which, indeed, you admit that it does deservedly, since you have been the oppressor and destroyer, not only of its dignity and authority, but altogether of its existence and its name. The Roman knights cannot bear the sight of you, since one of their order, a most excellent and accomplished man, Lucius Ælius, was banished by you when consul. The Roman people wishes your destruction, to whom, for the purpose of bringing infamy upon them, you have attributed those things which you did concerning me by the instrumentality of your band of robbers and slaves. All Italy execrates you, whose resolutions and entreaties you have scorned in the most arrogant and haughty manner. Make experiment of this excessive and universal hatred if you dare. The most carefully prepared and magnificent games within the memory of man are just at hand,—games such as not only never have been exhibited, but such that we cannot form a conception how it will be possible for any like them ever to be exhibited for the future. Trust yourself to the people; venture on attending these games. Are you afraid of hisses? Where are all the precepts of your schools? Are you afraid that there will be no acclamations raised in your honour? Surely it does not become a philosopher to regard even such a thing as that. You are afraid that violent hands may be laid on you. For pain is an evil, as you assert. The opinion which men entertain of you, disgrace, infamy, baseness,—these are all empty words, mere trifles. But about this I have no question. He will never dare to come near the games. He will attend the public banquet, not out of regard for his dignity, (unless, perchance, for the purpose of supping with the conscript fathers,1 that is to say, with those men who love him,) but merely for the sake of gratifying his appetite. The games he will leave to us idiots, as he calls us. For he is in the habit, in all his arguments, of preferring the pleasures of his stomach to all delight of his eyes and ears.
For though you have perhaps considered him previously only dishonest, cruel, and a bit of a thief, and though he now appears to you also voracious, and sordid, and obstinate, and haughty, and deceitful, and perfidious, and impudent, and audacious, know, too, that there is also nothing which is more licentious, nothing more lustful, nothing more base, nothing more wicked than this man. But do not think that it is mere luxury to which he is devoted. For there is a species of luxury, though it is all vicious and unbecoming, which is still not wholly unworthy of a well-born and a free man. But in this man there is nothing refined, nothing elegant, nothing exquisite; I will do justice even to an enemy,—there is nothing which is even very extravagant, except his lusts. There is no expense for works of carving. There are immense goblets, and those (in order that he may not appear to despise his countrymen) made at Placentia. His table is piled up, not with shell-fish and other fish, but with heaps of half-spoilt meat. He is waited on by a lot of dirty slaves, many of them old men. His cook is the same; his butler and porter the same. He has no baker at home, no cellar. His bread and his wine came from some huckster and some low wine-vault. His attendants are Greeks, five on a couch, often more. He is used to sit by himself, and to drink as long as there was anything in the cask.2 When he hears the cock crow, then, thinking that his grandfather has come to life again, he orders the table to be cleared.
XXVIII. Some one will say, “How did you find out all this?” I will not, indeed, describe any one in such a manner as to insult him, especially if he be an ingenious and learned man, a class with whom I could not be angry, even if I wished it. There is a certain Greek who lives with him, a man, to tell the truth, (I speak as I have found him,) of good manners, at least as long as he is in other company than Piso’s, or while he is by himself. He, when he had met that man, as a young man, though even then he had an expression of countenance as if he were angry with the gods, did not disdain his friendship, as the other sought for it with great eagerness; he gave himself up to intimacy with him, so as indeed to live wholly with him, and I may almost say, never to depart from him. I am speaking not before illiterate men, but, as I imagine, in a company of the most learned and highly accomplished men possible. You have no doubt heard it said, that the Epicurean philosophers measure everything which a man ought to desire by pleasure;—whether that is truly said or not is nothing to us, or if it be anything to us, it certainly has no bearing on the present subject; but still it is a tempting sort of argument for a young man, and one always dangerous to a person of no great intelligence.
Therefore, that profligate fellow, the moment that he heard that pleasure was so exceedingly praised by a philosopher, inquired nothing further; he so excited all his own senses which could be affected by pleasure, he neighed so on hearing this statement, that it was plain he thought that he had discovered not a teacher of virtue, but a pander to his lust. The Greek first began to distinguish between those precepts, and to separate them from one another, and to show in what sense they are uttered; but that cripple held the ball, as they say; he was determined to retain what he had got; he would have witnesses, and would have all the papers sealed up; he said, that Epicurus was an eloquent man. And so he is; he says, as I conceive, that he cannot understand the existence of any good when all the pleasures of the body are taken away. Why need I say much on such a topic? The Greek is an easy man, and very complaisant; he had no idea of being too contradictory to an “Imperator” of the Roman people.
XXIX. But the man of whom I am speaking is excessively accomplished, not in philosophy alone, but also in general literature, which they say that the rest of the Epicureans commonly neglect. He composes a poem, so witty, so neat, so elegant, that nothing can be cleverer. In respect of which any one may find fault with him who pleases, provided he does so good-humouredly, treating him not as a profligate, or a rascal, or a desperado, but merely as a Greekling, as a flatterer, as a poet. He comes to, or rather, I should say, he falls in with him, deceived by the same rigid brow of his (being, too, a Greek and a stranger) as this wise and great city was beguiled by. He could not withdraw when he had once become entangled in his intimacy, and he was afraid also of getting the character of being fickle. Being entreated, and invited, and compelled, he wrote so many things which he addressed to him, so many things too about him, that he has described in the most delicate poetry possible all the lusts of the man, all his debaucheries, all his different suppers and revels, and even all his adulteries. And, in that poetry, any one who pleases can see that fellow’s way of life reflected as in a mirror. And I would recite you much of it, which many men have read or heard, if I were not afraid that even the kind of speech which I am indulging in at this moment is at variance with the general usages of this place; and at the same time, I do not wish to do any injury to the character of the man who wrote it.
For if he had had better fortune in getting a pupil, perhaps he might have turned out a more strict and dignified man himself; but chance has led him into a habit of writing in this manner, very unworthy of a philosopher; if at least philosophy does, as is reported, comprehend the whole system of virtue, and duty, and living properly; and a man who professes it appears to me to have taken on himself a very serious and difficult character. But the same chance has polluted the man, who was quite ignorant of what he was professing when he called himself a philosopher, with the mud and filth of that fellow’s most obscene and intemperate flock.
And when he had praised the achievements of my consulship, (and I feel that the panegyric of that basest of men was almost a discredit to me myself,) “it was not,” says he, “any odium that you incurred by your conduct then, which injured you, but your verses.” It was too great a punishment that was established, I trow, by you when you were consul, for a poet, whether he were a bad one, or too free an one. For you wrote—
“Arms to the gown must yield.”
What then?—“This was what excited all that storm against you.” But I imagine that never was written in that panegyric, which, while you were consul, was engraved on the sepulchre of the republic—“May it please you, that because Marcus Cicero has written a verse, . . . .” but because he punished the guilty.
XXX. But since we are to consider you not as Aristarchus, but as a sort of grammatical Phalaris, a man who does not put a mark to a bad verse, but who pursues the poet with arms; I wish to know what fault you find with this verse:
“Arms to the gown must yield.”
“You say,” says he, “that the greatest generals must yield to the gown.” Why now, you ass, am I to teach you letters? I do not want words for such a purpose, but a stick,—I did not say this gown, in which I am clothed, nor, when I said “arms,” did I mean the sword and shield of any one particular general. But as the gown is the emblem of peace and tranquillity, and arms on the contrary are a token of disturbance and war, speaking after the manner of poets, I wished this to be understood, that war and tumult were to yield to peace and tranquillity. Ask your own intimate friend, that Greek poet; he will recognise and approve of such a figure of speech, and he will not wonder that you have no taste. “But,” says he, “I cannot digest that other sentence either:
‘The soldier’s bays shall yield to true renown.’ ”
Indeed, I am much obliged to you; for I too should stick at that, if you had not released me. For when you, frightened and trembling, threw down at the Esquiline gate the bays which with your own most thievish hands you had stripped off from your blood-stained fasces, you showed that those bays were granted not only to the highest, but even to the very paltriest degree of glory.
And yet, by this argument you try, O you wretch, to make out that Pompeius was made an enemy to me by that verse; so that, if my verse has injured me, the injury may appear to have been sought for me by that man whom that verse offended. I say nothing of the fact, that that verse had no reference to him: that it was not at all my object to insult with one single verse the man whom I had repeatedly extolled in many speeches and writings. But grant that he was offended. In the first place, will he not put in the scale against this one verse, the many volumes full of his praises which have proceeded from me? And if he has been moved by such a consideration, could he have countenanced so cruel an injury, (I will not say to his own dearest friend, to one who did not deserve such treatment at his hands by the anxiety which he has shown for his glory, nor at the hands of the republic; to a man of consular rank, to a senator, to a citizen, or to a freeman, but) to any human being, on account of a verse?
XXXI. Are you aware what you are saying, to whom and of whom you are saying it? You are implicating most honourable men in your and Gabinius’s wickedness, and that without any disguise. For a little while before you say that I was contending against men whom I despised; but that I was leaving those men alone who had more influence, though they were the men with whom I ought to be angry. But as for those men, (for who is there who is not aware whom you mean?) although the case of them all is not the same, still I have no cause of complaint against any of them.
Cnæus Pompeius, though many men have tried to oppose his zeal for and attachment to my interests, has always had a regard for me; has always considered me entirely worthy of his intimacy; has always wished me to be not merely safe, but loaded with as much honour and distinction as possible. It is the dishonesty of you and your friends,—it is your wickedness, your accusations against me, as if I were cherishing treacherous designs and he were in danger,—accusations most wickedly invented, and at the same time the accusations of those men who, abusing the liberty which their friendship with him gave them, contrived a home for their most infamous statements in his ears, at your instigation, and it is your desires of provinces which caused me to be excluded from his house, and all the men who were anxious for the preservation of his glory, and of the republic, to be cut off from all conversation with and all access to him. And by all these measures it was brought about that he was prevented from abiding by what was notoriously his own opinion, while certain men had (I will not say wholly alienated his affections from me, but had) checked his eagerness to be of assistance to me.
Did not Lucius Lentulus, who was at that time prætor, did not Quintus Sanga, did not Lucius Torquatus the father, did not Marcus Lucullus come to you? All of whom, and many others, had come to him, at his house on the Alban Hill, to pray and entreat him not to desert my fortune, which was bound up with the safety of the republic. And he sent those men to you and to your colleague, that you might espouse the public cause, and submit a motion to the senate. He said, that he was unwilling to enter into a contest with a tribune of the people in arms, unless he had a public resolution on his side; but that if the consuls were defending the republic in obedience to a resolution of the senate, then he would take up arms. Do you at all recollect, you wretch, what answer you gave? an answer at which all those men, but especially Torquatus above all, were in a fury at the insolence of your reply, when you said that you were not as brave as Torquatus had been in his consulship, or as I had been; that there was no need of arms, nor of a contest; that it was in my power a second time to save the republic by yielding to the storm; that there would be endless bloodshed if I resisted; and at the last, he said, that neither he nor his son-in-law nor his colleague would desert the tribune of the people. And now, you enemy and traitor, do you say that I ought to be a more determined enemy to any one else than to you?
XXXII. I know well that Caius Cæsar has not always had the same opinion about the republic that I have; but nevertheless, as I have often said of him before, in the hearing of these men, he communicated to me all his intentions during the whole of his consulship, and he wished me to be his partner in all the honours which he shared with his nearest friends; he offered them to me, he invited, he entreated me to accept them. I was not brought over to his party, perhaps out of too great a regard for my character for consistency; I did not wish to be exceedingly beloved by him to whose kindnesses I would never have given up my own opinion. While you were consul, the matter was supposed to be disputed and to have come to a close contest, whether the acts which he had carried the previous year should continue in force, or be rescinded. Why need I say more on this subject? If he thought that there was so much virtue, and vigour, and influence in me, that all the acts which he had performed would be undone if I opposed them, why should I not excuse him if he preferred his own safety to mine?
But I will say nothing of what is past. When Cnæus Pompeius embraced my cause with all his energies, using all his exertions, and encountering even danger to his life for my sake; when he was going round to the municipal towns to plead my cause, and was imploring the good faith of all Italy; when he was continually sitting by Publius Lentulus the consul, the author of my safety; when he was always delivering his opinion to the senate, and when in all his harangues he was not only professing himself the defender of my safety, but was descending even to supplications in my behalf; he then took to himself as a companion of and an assistant in his zeal for me, Caius Cæsar, whom he knew to have the very greatest influence, and to be no enemy of mine. You see now that I am not an antagonist of yours, not an enemy to you; and that, as for those men whom you hint at, I am bound not only not to be offended with them, but to be a friend to them. One of them, and I will take care always to remember it, has been as great a friend to me as to himself; the other, what I will forget some day or other, certainly was more of a friend to himself than to me. But this is a common state of things, that brave men, even after they have fought together in close combat, sword in hand, still lay aside the hostility engendered by the contest, at the same time that they cease from the battle itself, and lay down their arms. Nor, indeed, was he ever able to hate me, not even when we were most at variance. Virtue, which you do not even know by sight, has this quality, that its appearance and beauty delight brave men even when existing in an enemy.
XXXIII. In truth, I will say sincerely, O conscript fathers, what I feel, and what I have often said before in your hearing. If Caius Cæsar had never been friendly towards me; if he had always been hostile to me; if he had despised my friendship, and had always shown himself implacable and irreconcilable towards me; still I could not feel otherwise than friendly towards a man who had performed and was daily performing such mighty actions. Now that he is in command, I no longer oppose and array the rampart of the Alps against the ascent and crossing of the Gauls, nor the channel of the Rhine, foaming with its vast whirlpools, to those most savage nations of the Germans. Cæsar has brought things to such a pass, that even if the mountains were to sink down, and the rivers to be dried up, we should still have Italy fortified, not, indeed, by the bulwarks of nature, but by his victory and great exploits. But as he courts me, and loves me, and thinks me worthy of every sort of praise, will you call me off from my enmity against you to a quarrel with him? Will you thus re-open the past wounds of the republic by your enormities? Which, indeed, you, who were well acquainted with the union subsisting between Cæsar and me, sought to elude, when you asked me,—with trembling lips, indeed, but still you did ask me,—why I did not proceed against you? Although, as far as I am concerned—
still I must consider how much anxiety and how great a burden I, being exceedingly friendly to him, am imposing on him, while embarrassed with such important affairs of the republic, and with so formidable a war.
Nor do I despair, though the youth of the city is indolent, and does not concern itself with the desire of praise and glory as it should, that there will be some men who will not be unwilling to strip this prostrate carcass of its consular spoils, especially in the case of so contemptible, and powerless, and helpless a criminal; in the case of you who have behaved in such a manner that you have been afraid of appearing utterly unworthy of kindness, unless you showed yourself, in all respects, like the man by whom you were despatched into that province.
XXXIV. Do you imagine that we have inquired in only a cursory manner into the disgraces incurred during your command, and into the losses suffered by the province? We have investigated them, not tracking your footsteps merely by scent, but marking every wriggle of your body, and every seat where you have left your print. Everything has been noted by us, both the very first crimes which you committed on your arrival, when, having received money from the people of Dyrrachium for the murder of Plator, who was connected with you by ties of hospitality, you destroyed the house of the man to whose murder you had sold yourself: when, after you had accepted from him some musical slave and other presents, he was still alarmed and hesitated a good deal, you assured him with promises, and desired him to come to Thessalonica on the security of your good faith. And at last you did not even put him to death according to the custom of our ancestors, when that miserable man was willing to place his neck beneath the axe of his hereditary friend, but you ordered the physician whom you had brought with you to open his veins. After that, you added to the murder of Plator, that of Pleuratus, his companion, whom you put to death by scourging, being a man of extreme old age. After that, you also put to death by the hand of the executioner, Rabocentus, a prince of the Bessic tribe, having sold yourself to do this to king Cottus, for three hundred talents. And you did not murder him alone, but all the other ambassadors also who had come with him, all whose lives you sold to king Cottus. You waged a wicked and cruel war against the Denseletæ, a nation which has at all times been obedient to this empire, and which even at the time of that general defection of all the barbarians, preserved Macedonia for us, when Caius Sentius was prætor. And though you might have had that people for your most faithful allies, you preferred to treat them as our most bitter enemies. Thereby you made those who might have been the perpetual defenders of Macedonia, desirous to harass and destroy it. They have thrown our revenues into confusion, they have taken our cities, laid waste our lands, led away our allies into slavery, carried off whole families, driven off our cattle, and compelled the people of Thessalonica, as they despaired of saving their town, to fortify their citadel.
XXXV. It was by you that the temple of Jupiter Urius, the most ancient and the most venerated of all the temples of the barbarians, was plundered. They are your crimes which the immortal gods have been avenging on our soldiers; for when they were all attacked by one kind of disease, and when no one who had once fallen sick was found to recover, no one had any doubt that it must have been the insults offered to men connected with us by ties of hospitality, and the murder of ambassadors, and the attacking of peaceful and allied tribes with wanton and wicked war, and the plundering of temples, which were the causes of this great destruction. You can recognise in such brief particulars as these the universal nature of your wickedness and cruelty.
Why need I now detail the whole course of your avarice, which is connected with innumerable crimes? I will just mention a few which are most notorious, in a lump. Did you not, after they had been paid to you from the treasury, leave behind you at Rome, to be put out to usury, the eighteen millions of sesterces which you had obtained under pretence of its being money for your fit-out as governor of a province, but which was in reality the price for which you had sold my life?1 Did you not, when the people of Apollonia had given you two hundred talents at Rome, in order, by your means, to avoid payment of their just debts,—did you not, I say, actually give up Fufidius, a Roman knight, a most accomplished man, to his debtors? Did you not, when you had given up your winter quarters to your lieutenant and prefect, utterly destroy those miserable cities? which were not only drained of all their wealth, but were compelled to undergo all the unholy cruelties and excesses of your lusts. What was your method of valuing corn? or the compliment which you claimed? if, indeed, that which is extorted by violence and by fear can be called a compliment. And this conduct of yours was felt nearly equally by all, but most bitterly by the Bœotians, and Byzantines, and by the people of the Chersonesus and Thessalonica. You were the only master, you were the only valuer, you were the only seller of all the corn in the whole province for the space of three years.
XXXVI. Why need I bring forward your investigations into capital charges, your agreements with criminals, your most iniquitous condemnation of some, your most profligate acquittal of others? You know well that every circumstance concerning these matters is known to me, and I will leave you to recollect how many crimes of that class and of what great enormity they were. What? have you any recollection of that workshop of arms where, having collected together all the oattle of the whole province, under some pretext connected with the hides, you repeated the whole of the profits which had been made by your family, and by your own father? For you, when you were a pretty big boy, at the time of the Italian war, had seen your house crammed full of the gains made when your father superintended the manufactory of arms. What? do you not recollect that the province was made a source of revenue to your slaves to whom you farmed it, by putting a fixed import duty on every single thing which was sold? What? do you forget that centurionships were sold openly? What? do you deny that rank was dispensed by your slaves? What? do you deny that during all those years pay was furnished to your troops by the cities of the province, the months for which each city was to find the money being openly settled? What? have you forgotten that journey of yours into Pontus and your attempts there? have you forgotten your prostration and abjectness of mind, when news was brought to you that Macedonia was made a prætorian province, and when you fell down fainting and half dead, not only because your successor was appointed, but also that Gabinius’s was not? NA* * *1 Did you not send away a quæstor of ædilitian rank? Was not every one of the most virtuous of your lieutenants insulted by you? Did you not refuse to receive the military tribunes? Was not Marcus Bæbius, a brave man, murdered by your commands? Why need I tell how often you, distrusting and despairing of your fortunes, lay down in mourning, and lamentation, and misery? Why need I tell how you sent to that priest, so beloved by the people, six hundred men of the friends, or allies, or tributaries of the Roman people, to be exposed to wild beasts?
Need I relate how, when you were scarcely able to support your disappointment and grief at your departure from the province, you first of all went to Samothrace, after that to Thasos with your train of young dancing boys, and with Autobulus, and Athamas, and Timocles, those beautiful brothers?—that when you departed thence you lay for many days weeping in the villa of Euchadia, who was the wife of Execestus? and from thence, disguised in shabby garments, you came to Thessalonica by night, without any one knowing it?—that then, when you could not bear the crowds of men who came about you bewailing the state to which you had reduced them, nor the torrent of their complaints, you fled away to Berœa, a town out of your road? Need I relate how, when a rumour that Quintus Ancharius was not going to be appointed your successor had elated your mind with false hopes, while you were in that town,—you again, O wretched man, gave the rein to all your former intemperance?
XXXVII. I say nothing of the gold for a crown, which tormented you a long time, while at one time you were inclined towards it, and at another time unwilling to take it. For the law of your son-in-law forbade it to be decreed or to be accepted, unless a triumph was also decreed. But nevertheless you, in respect of that gold, could not find in your heart to disgorge the money which you had received and devoured, as in the case of the hundred talents of the Achæans; you only changed the names and descriptions of the pretexts under which you extracted the money. I say nothing of the commissions which you scattered at random over the provinces; I say nothing of the number of vessels, or of the sum total of the plunder you acquired; I say nothing of the system under which you levied and extorted all the corn; I say nothing of your having stripped both nations and individuals of their liberties, even though they had had those liberties given them by name as rewards; not one of all which things is not carefully provided against and expressly forbidden to be done by the Julian law.
You, on your departure, (O you punishment, O you Fury of the allies,) destroyed the unhappy Ætolia, which being separated by a great distance from the barbarian nations, is placed in the lap of peace, and is in almost the centre of Greece. You confess—as indeed you mentioned yourself only just now—that Arsinoë, and Stratus, and Naupactus, noble and wealthy cities, were taken by the enemy. And by what enemies? Why, by those whom you, while encamped at Ambracia, on your first arrival, compelled to depart from the towns of the Agrinæ and of the Dolopes, and to leave their altars and their homes. But now, on this departure of yours, O you illustrious “Imperator,”—though the sudden destruction of Ætolia was no trifling addition to your previous disasters,—you disbanded your army; nor was there any punishment which could be considered due to such guilt as yours which you were not willing to undergo, rather than allow any one to become acquainted with the existing numbers of the relics of your army.
XXXVIII. And, that you, O conscript fathers, may see how great is the resemblance between the two Epicurean generals in their military exploits and management of their command; Albucius, after he had triumphed in Sardinia, was condemned at Rome. And as this man expected a similar end to his campaigns, he laid aside his trophies in Macedonia; and those things which all nations have agreed in considering the insignia and monuments of military glory and victory, this extraordinary “Imperator” of ours made the fatal evidences of towns which had been lost, of legions which had been cut to pieces, of a province stripped of its garrison and of all the rest of its troops, to the everlasting disgrace of his family and name; and then, in order that there should be something which might be recorded and engraved on the pedestal of his trophies, when, on his departure from his province, he arrived at Dyrrachium, he was besieged by those very soldiers whom he told Torquatus just now, in answer to his questions, had been disbanded by him out of kindness.
And when he had assured them with an oath that he would pay them the next day all that was due to them, he hid himself at home; and then on a very stormy night, in slippers and in the garb of a slave, he embarked on board a ship, and avoided Brundusium, and sailed towards the furthest part of the coast of the Adriatic Sea; while in the mean time, the soldiers at Dyrrachium began to besiege the house in which they thought that he was, and as they thought that he was hiding himself there, they began to set fire to it. And the people of Dyrrachium, being alarmed at that proceeding, told them that their “Imperator” had fled away by night in his slippers. Then the troops displace, and throw down, and deface, and destroy a statue of his, an excellent likeness of him, which he had caused to be erected in the most frequented place, that the recollection of so delightful a man might not perish; and in this way they expended on his likeness and on his effigy the hatred which they had hoped to wreak on himself.
And as all this is the truth, (for I have no doubt that, when you see that I am acquainted with these which are the more prominent facts of your career, you will suppose that the more ordinary cases that the main body of your crimes, has not been entirely unheard of by me,) you have no occasion to tempt me either by exhortation or by invitation. It is quite enough for me to be reminded. And no one and nothing will remind me except the critical occasions of the republic, which appear to me, indeed, to be more immediately pressing than you have ever thought.
XXXIX. Do you not in the least see or perceive what sort of judges we are going to have for the future, when the law regulating the courts of justice is passed? Then it will not be the case that every one who likes will be appointed, and that every one who has any objection will be excused. No men will be thrust into the order of judges; no one will be irregularly removed from it. Ambition will not be allowed to work its way to popularity, nor wickedness to gratify its enmity, by that means. Those will be the judges whom the law itself, not those whom the depraved caprices of men appoint. And as this is the case, believe me, you will not have need to demand a prosecutor against your will. The case itself, or the necessities of the republic, will either call forth me myself—which I should be sorry for—or some one else, or will repress us.
In truth, as I said a little time ago, I do not think that the same things are punishments to men which most people consider such; namely—condemnation, banishment, or death. Lastly, it seems to me that that which may happen to an innocent, or to a brave, or to a wise, or to a virtuous man and citizen, cannot be a punishment in the proper sense of the word. That condemnation which is now demanded to be inflicted on you, befel Publius Rutilius, a man whom this city accounted a pattern of innocence. Lucius Opimius was driven from his country—he who, as prætor and consul, had delivered the republic from the greatest dangers. The punishment of guilt and of the consciousness of it, did not belong to the man to whom the injury was done, but to those who did it. But on the other hand, Catiline was twice acquitted; even that man who was the cause of your obtaining your province was acquitted after he had profaned the sacred rites of the Good Goddess. But who was there in all this city who thought that he was released from the guilt of impiety, and not that those who acquitted him were, by their sentence, made accomplices in his wickedness?
XL. Am I to wait while seventy-five voting tablets are distributed in your case; when all men of all classes and ages and ranks of society have long since formed their opinions concerning you? For who is there who thinks you deserving of a visit; or of any compliment, or even of an ordinary salutation? All men wish to efface all recollection of your consulship, to extirpate your conduct, your habits, your very appearance and name from the republic. The lieutenants who were with you are alienated from you, the military tribunes are hostile to you; the centurions and any other soldiers who may be left out of that once numerous army, and who were not disbanded by you but scattered abroad, hate you, wish for calamities to befal you, execrate you. Achaia which has been drained by you, Thessaly which has been harassed by you, Athens which has been plundered by you, Dyrrachium and Apollonia which have been completely emptied by you, Ambracia which has been pillaged by you, the Parthinians and Bulliensians who have been mocked by you, Epirus which has been laid waste by you, the Locrians, the Phocians, the Bœotians whom you have ravaged with fire and sword, Acarnania, Amphilochia, Perrhæbia, and the nation of the Athamanes who have been sold by you, Macedonia which has been sacrificed by you to the barbarians, Ætolia which has been lost, the Dolopians and the neighbouring mountaineers who have been driven from their towns and from their lands, the Roman citizens who have dealings as merchants in those countries,—all feel that you came among them as their chief despoiler, and harasser, and robber, and enemy.
To all these numerous and weighty opinions formed respecting you in this manner, there has been added the private sentence of condemnation which you have passed upon yourself. Your secret arrival, your stealthy journey through Italy, your entry into the city deserted by your friends;—the fact of your sending no letters to the senate, of your addressing no congratulation to them on successes achieved by you during the whole of three summer campaigns, of your making no mention of any triumph;—you do not only omit to say what you did, but you do not even dare to say where you were.
When you had brought back the dry withered leaves of your laurels from that fountain and seed-ground of triumphs, when you threw them down and left them at the gate, then you yourself gave your verdict against yourself, and pronounced yourself “guilty.” And if you had done nothing deserving of honour, what had become of your army? where was the need for all that expense? what did you want with a military command? why did you seek for that province so fruitful in supplications and triumphs? But if you had ventured to cherish hopes of anything,—if you had nourished the thoughts which the name of “Imperator,” the fasces bound with laurel, and those trophies so full of disgrace and ridicule to you, show that you had entertained,—who can be more miserable, who more thoroughly condemned than you, who neither when absent ventured to write to the senate that the affairs of the republic had been prosperously conducted by you, nor dare to say as much when you are present?
XLI. Do you think that you can possibly appear to be anything but a condemned man to me, who have always been of opinion that a man’s fortune was to be estimated by his actions themselves, and not by their results, and that our character and our fortunes depended not on the voting tablets of a few judges, but on the opinions and judgments of all the citizens? when I see that the allies, and the people of the federate states, and all free nations, and all the tributary peoples, and the merchants, and the farmers of the public revenue, and the whole population of the city, and the lieutenants, and the military tribunes, and all the soldiers who are left of your army—as many as have escaped the sword, and famine, and disease, think you worthy of every extremity of punishment? when no excuse can be possibly alleged either before the senate, or before any order of men whatever, or before the Roman knights, or in the city, or in any part of Italy, sufficient to induce any one to pardon your enormous crimes? when I see that even you yourself hate yourself, and are afraid of everybody, and can find no one to whom you can venture to entrust your cause, and by your own verdict condemn yourself?
I have never thirsted for your blood; I have never sought in your case for that extreme severity of the law and of judgment which at times may fall alike on the virtuous and on the guilty. But I have wished to see you abject, despised, scorned by all the rest of the citizens; looking with despair on your prospects, and abandoned even by yourself; looking timidly around at every noise which sounded near you; trembling at everything; distrusting the continuance of even your present safety, such as it is; not daring to utter a word; deprived of all liberty, destitute of all authority, stripped of all the dignity of a consul and of a man of consular rank; shivering, trembling, and fawning on all men. And I have seen you. Wherefore, if that future befals you which you are in hourly apprehension of, I shall be in no respect concerned at it; if it is even a long while coming, still I shall enjoy the indignities to which you are exposed; and I shall be quite as well pleased to see you in daily fear of a prosecution as actually before the court; nor shall I rejoice less at seeing you in constant and unceasing distress, than I should if I saw you for a short time in the mourning robe of a criminal on his trial.
[1 ]A civic crown was given to those who had saved the life of a citizen.
[1 ]The compitalicii ludi, or compitalia, as they are called a few lines after, were a festival celebrated once a-year in honour of the lares compitales, to whom sacrifices were offered at places where two ways met. It is said to have been instituted by Tarquinius Priscus, in honour of the birth of Servius Tullius; and Tarquinius Superbus is said to have sacrificed boys at them to Mania, the mother of the Lares; but after his expulsion this custom was abolished, and the offerings were garlic and poppies. The exact day on which the games were celebrated varied, but it was always in the winter. In one of Cicero’s letters to Atticus, (vii. 7,) he speaks of them as falling one year on the second of January. According to some editions, the proper reading here is the thirtieth of December. Smith, Dict. Ant. p. 279, v. Compitalia.
[1 ]The Latin is bustuarius; literally, one who fights at the funeral pile in honour of the dead.
[1 ]The Seplasia was a street at Capua, full of perfumers and hairdressers, and much frequented.
[2 ]Duumvir was the title of the chief magistrate in the colonies and municipal towns in Italy.
[1 ]The Latin is “de lapide emptos,” the lapis being a raised stone on which the præco or auctioneer stood, when slaves were sold; with reference to which Plautus says—
[1 ]He refers here to the great victory of Paullus Æmilius, which was gained in this country over Perseus at Pydna.
[1 ]The braccæ, drawers or breeches, were the national costume of Gaul, especially of Gallia Narbonensis, which is called by Pliny Gallia Braccata.
[1 ]Pomptinus had been prætor in Cicero’s consulship; the next year he had subdued the Allobroges, but he did not celebrate his triumph till the year a. u. c. 700, in the consulship of Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus and Appius Claudius Pulcher.
[1 ]A Greek word, signifying “is gone, has perished.”
[1 ]Themista is the name of a woman who devoted herself to the study of philosophy, to whom Epicurus wrote many of his letters.
[1 ]There is great doubt about the text here.
[2 ]There is great uncertainty about the true reading here.
[1 ]This is from the Atreus of Accius.
[1 ]The reader may as well be reminded that the Latin word “caput,” here and elsewhere translated life, means in reality, when employed, as here, in a legal sense, the civil privileges of a Roman citizen as well as his life, and they were destroyed by banishment as completely as by death.
[1 ]There is great corruption of the text here.